Inverted Bailout

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On 26 July 1958, Capt. Iven C. Kincheloe was scheduled to fly F-104A (56-0772) to A. F. Plant 42 at Palmdale to support a test flight. Shortly after takeoff, the inlet guide vane (IGV) position feedback cable broke, allowing the IGVs to go to the full-closed position. The failure was not readily apparent to the pilot, as the J79 engine was still getting 100-percent RPM and there was no indication of an overtemp condition. Unfortunately, the engine was now only providing 80-percent thrust, and the pilot could not light the afterburner because of reduced airflow through the engine.

The aircraft began to lose altitude, quickly dropping below 2,000 feet above ground level. Since he had a downward ejection seat, and was descending rapidly, Kincheloe apparently felt he had to invert the aircraft to bail out. The pilot made a final radio call to the base: "Hello, Edwards. Mayday, Seven-Seventy-Two. Bailing out."

Kincheloe rolled the aircraft, pulled the hatch jettison handle, and then pulled the seat jettison handle. By this time the F-104 had lost a frightful amount of altitude. Since the seat was designed to fall out using gravity an inverted ejection was not recommended. The seat slid out slowly and skated along the fuselage after separation from the airframe. Kincheloe separated from the seat less than 500 feet above the ground. His parachute deployed at extremely low altitude, and he was killed on impact. The aircraft struck the ground southeast of Rosamond Dry Lake and was completely destroyed.

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